Several news outlets, including Reuters, AP and NBC, are reporting that a condition of reopening travel to the United States may include vaccination against the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. These reports come only ten days after the White House confirmed that the travel bans currently in place for travelers from 33 countries will remain in place in light of concerns over the transmissibility of the Delta variant. The Biden administration has a keen interest in lifting the travel restrictions; a move expected to jumpstart a lagging economy, but at what cost, both politically and in terms of public health? We are likely to hear more about this developing issue in the coming weeks.
Chile continues suspending the entry of foreign nationals due to the outbreak of Coronavirus until July 25, 2021. Exemptions have been carved out, including specific procedures for companies to apply for a a safe conduct (“Salvoconducto”) to allow entry to the country for essential or critical personnel. Continue Reading Chile Continues Banning Entry of Foreign Nationals and Placing Restrictions for Exit
Starting September 1st, 2021, Korean immigration will require visa waiver entrants (traveling for tourism or business) to obtain an electronic travel authorization, known as, K-ETA, at least 24 hours prior to travel. Currently, K-ETA is an optional program but will become mandatory on September 1st. Continue Reading Republic of Korea Introduces K-ETA
Taiwan continues suspending the entry of visitors and resident visa holders until July 16. Only foreign nationals with an Alien Resident Certificate are permitted to enter. Exceptions are being considered on a case-by-case basis for emergencies and on humanitarian grounds.
The limit on the number of international arrivals coming into Australia via commercial flights, the so-called “passenger cap”, will be halved from July 14 due to concerns around the Delta variant of Covid-19. The new cap will be 3,035 international arrivals per week, and each major airport will be subject to these caps:
- Sydney: 1,505 per week
- Perth: 265 per week
- Adelaide: 265 per week
- Melbourne: 500 per week
- Brisbane: 500 per week (plus 150 surge capacity)
In response to COVID-19 outbreaks, some Australian states and territories have enacted new restrictions and closed their borders. These restrictions include mandatory quarantines, COVID-19 tests, and the completion of either declaration or registration forms. Australia has remained closed to international travelers, unless you are an Australia citizen, resident, immediate family member, or meet a specified exemption. If returning home to Australia or if an exception is met, travelers from oversees, with the exception of travelers from New Zealand who meet eligibility criteria, are required to quarantine at their port of arrival for 14 days at a government-designated accommodation.
On July 6, 2021, the Department of State extended the validity of National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for travelers subject to restrictions under the COVID-19 travel bans (Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, and 10199). Unless otherwise indicated, existing NIEs will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval and for multiple entries, as long as they are used for the purpose under which they were granted.
The official 30 June deadline to submit an initial application under the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) has now passed. There were a flurry of last minute applications and reports of people being unable to submit their applications due to technical difficulties caused by the number of people logging onto the on-line form. There is a significant backlog of applications and some applications have yet to arrive with the Home Office as they had to be submitted by post. Fortunately, whilst an application is pending, an applicant continues to have the right to live and work in the UK.
Whilst the deadline for applications has come and gone, there may still be hope for some who may not have managed to submit an application in time.
In an eagerly anticipated update, the Home Office has now announced that the Covid-19 adjustment to the right to work (“RTW”) check will no longer end on 20 June 2021 but will be extended to 1 September 2021.
The RTW check seems to be the most frequently changing area of UK immigration law at present as this is now our fourth blog on this topic in the last two months.
As a reminder, the Covid-19 concession allows employers to undertake the RTW check without physically seeing an employee’s original documents. Details of the adjusted process are set out here. With the UK Government extending lockdown until 19 July and the continuation of guidance that employees should work from home where possible, we have been waiting for this announcement since Monday.
The generous extension of the concession to 1 September is unexpected and an extremely pleasant surprise. The Home Office states that it has taken on board feedback from employers and stakeholders that many employers do not expect a full return to the office until September. The Home Office has also received feedback that many employers will be introducing a new hybrid model of working and need time to introduce new processes to comply with the normal RTW requirements.
The Home Office has also confirmed that there will be no requirement for retrospective checks on anyone who had a Covid-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 inclusive.
In keeping with this fast moving area, the Home Office will shortly be releasing new guidance for RTW checks undertaken on or after 1 July 2021. The new guidance will reflect changes made to the Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working with regard to the RTW checks which we discussed here. We will of course post another update as soon as the Home Office publishes the new guidance so watch this space!
On June 9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its policy guidance on the expedited treatment of pending petitions and applications. The new updates, now included in the USCIS Policy Manual, restore the ability for IRS-designated nonprofit organizations to request expedited service, when the request “is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States,” regardless of whether premium processing is available. Petitioners, regardless of tax status, may also request expedited processing in the following situations:
- Severe financial loss to a company or person, provided that the need for urgent action is not the result of the petitioner’s or applicant’s failure to file or respond timely to USCIS;
- Emergencies and urgent humanitarian reasons;
- U.S. government interests (including urgent cases for federal agencies or other public safety or national security interests); or
- Clear USCIS error.
A company can demonstrate that it would suffer a “severe financial loss” if it is at risk of failing, losing a critical contract, or required to lay off other employees.
The need to obtain employment authorization, standing alone, without evidence of other compelling factors, does not warrant expedited treatment. According to USCIS, job loss may be sufficient to establish severe financial loss for a person, depending on the individual’s circumstances. For example, the inability to travel for work that would result in job loss might warrant expedited treatment.
USCIS, however, generally does not consider expedite requests for petitions and applications where Premium Processing Service is available.
The new guidance pertains only to USCIS, a component of the Department of Homeland Security. It does not apply to requests to expedite visa service at an embassy or consulate overseas, a process managed by the Department of State.